EP NowEP StoreAcademySupportCommunityProducts by Country
Newsroom Home

Hollywood production in U.K. soars to record levels as crews complain of burnout

Spending on film and high-end television shoots reach record-breaking amounts as production activity surges
August 22, 2022
Los Angeles Times logo

As seen in the LA Times.

In the far corner of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, star Vin Diesel was having a smoke with a colleague between takes for “Fast X,” where a car flip scene was being filmed for the latest in the “Fast & Furious” franchise.

He rested on a barrier under a hot August sun, overlooking a 50-acre field that housed the remains of Kings Landing’s Red Keep — a castle set piece vestige from the yearlong filming for HBO Max’s eagerly awaited “Game of Thrones” prequel, which debuted Sunday night.

While the original hit was filmed in Northern Ireland, Leavesden expanded its facilities to help convince the filmmakers of “House of the Dragon” to shoot in England.

The studio, a former World War II aircraft factory in Watford, has been booked out as production levels are busier than ever. Since Warner Bros. acquired Leavesden in 2010 for $161.4 million, the lot has doubled in size, growing to 20 stages from nine, spanning 1.5 million square feet.

Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” and “Wonka” just wrapped filming on the lot. Universal Pictures also is planning to film part of “Wicked” — the film adaptation of the Broadway musical starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo — at Leavesden.

“It’s a really exciting time. And it’s incredibly busy,” Emily Stillman, senior vice president of Leavesden, said. “We had some space become available in the second half of this year and we filled that almost immediately. We could have sold that again, two or three times over.”

After the COVID-19 pandemic caused numerous shutdowns and delays, the U.K. is once again enjoying a surge in production activity.

Spending on film and high-end television shoots reached a record 5.72 billion pounds ($6.73 billion) in the fiscal year ended in June, according to the British Film Institute. Television production during the period reached 3.88 billion pounds ($4.56 billion), the highest level on record.

The U.K. has a long tradition of film production from the James Bond movies to “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter.” Studios and streaming companies are taking advantage of some of the world’s most stable and lucrative film incentives, which were recently expanded to include TV, animation and video games.

“There’s been an absolutely colossal amount of film and television production happening in the U.K. We’ve broken all records in terms of inward investment,” said Adrian Wootton, chief executive of the British Film Commission. “We’re very much an agent of growth, an agent of recovery, for the U.K. economy.”

The boom has been driven by several factors, including pent-up demand caused by earlier shutdowns, favorable exchange rates and a slew of high-end television productions from Netflix, Apple, Amazon and other streaming giants reshaping the TV industry.

High-profile shows filming in Britain include the third season of “Ted Lasso” for Apple TV+, Netflix’s fifth season of “The Crown” and “Queen Charlotte” for Netflix and Shondaland.

Then there’s Amazon’s much anticipated “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” series, which announced earlier this year it was moving its second season from New Zealand to Shepperton, Surrey. The series debuts next month.

In February, Amazon signed a multimillion-pound long-term lease with Shepperton Studios as part of a plan to expand “its production footprint and investing in studio space across the U.K.,” the company said in a statement.

Amazon declined to comment further on its plans.

“It’s just gone absolutely thermonuclear,” said Spencer MacDonald, national secretary of Bectu, the union representing over 40,000 staff, contract and freelance workers in the media and entertainment industries. “The amount of content that [streaming companies] are trying to produce is just phenomenal.”

The soaring demand has created a shortage of stage space.

The prospects have drawn Los Angeles-based real estate companies such as Hudson Pacific Properties and Hackman Capital Partners, among other major private equity funds.

Hackman, which has developed major Southern California film locations such as the Culver Studios and Television City Studios, broke ground in June on what it describes as London’s largest film and TV production center.

With 12 stages over a total studio space of over 500,000 square feet, Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham promised to boost the East London area, creating 1,200 jobs and, contributing 35 million pounds ($41 million) per year to the local economy, Hackman said in its 2020 announcement. The new studio is expected to be open next year.

Eastbrook is expanding into London’s east, where a younger, more diverse crew base lives, said Jason Hariton, chief real estate officer for the MBS Group, an affiliate of Hackman Capital. The company has seeded an endowment for crew development and job training in East London.

“It’s a business where if the doors are open, then people have an opportunity for high-paying work quickly,” Harrison said. “London is a fantastic, top-five shooting location for high-end TV and film in the world.”

Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties are behind another studio project in England. They plan to invest over 700 million pounds ($822 million) building Sunset Waltham Cross north of London, which they said is due to open in 2025. It is the first international expansion of their Sunset Studios, where movies such as “La La Land” were filmed.

Britain’s generous film incentives — a 25% cash rebate that applies to actors’ salaries and other so-called above-the-line costs — have been a big draw for studios like Warner Bros. The weakening British pound has also made U.S. dollars go further.

“It’s pretty close to the perfect incentive,” said Joseph Chianese, senior vice president at Burbank-based Entertainment Partners. “In the U.K., they really see the film and TV industry as an integral part of their economy. It’s a real economic driver.”

Aside from the tax incentives, Hollywood studio executives also point to the quality of local crews.

“You can make an entire movie with local crew and that’s a big benefit,” said Jeff LaPlante, president of physical production at Universal Pictures. “They have great technicians.”

During a visit to Los Angeles in May, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans with Universal Pictures to create a training program to cultivate more diverse crew members. Under that plan, the studio agreed to have young Londoners from underrepresented communities work on British productions this year such as “Wicked” and “Fast X.”

All the growth has created an overall shortage of crews. Film and premium television production is expected to reach 7.66 billion pounds ($9 billion) by 2025, requiring nearly 21,000 crew to meet demand, according to a report by ScreenSkills, a nonprofit that trains crews.

The rapid growth is creating “highly pressurized workplaces” which could become a detriment to the British film industry, the report said.

Labor tensions have also been on the rise as crews, like their U.S. counterparts, work longer hours to keep up with demand.

Bectu’s MacDonald says the industry needs to “make it more attractive for people to come in and ... also addresses the issue for people already in the industry, so people don’t get burned out and they don’t leave.”

Meanwhile, producers worry about rising labor costs.

“If the U.K. becomes too expensive, they’ll just move production,” said John McVay, chief executive of PACT, the trade body representing independent production and distribution companies in the U.K.

Leavesden is adapting to help attract crews. Stillman started a child-care facility on the lot for its freelance workers. The complex also includes a state-of-the-art gym, where crew line up from 5 a.m. to work out before the day starts, she said. The studio also offers mental health services for workers who want support.

“What we’ve got to do ... is make sure that we keep investing in all the elements, whether that’s people or facilities and spaces, or confidence in the tax credit,” Stillman said. “All those elements have to come together to keep this momentum going.”

Related Content

Behind the Boom: Why the UK is a Hotspot for Production

Explore the generous industry incentives, talent, and infrastructure available to productions filming in...
INDUSTRY NEWS_SQUARE_uk flag_big ben

Update on UK Film and TV Tax Relief Consultation

A look at how the UK government aims to modernise existing tax reliefs to better serve film industry...
Topic: UK

Meet the Unit Production Manager

Carrie Holt de Lama ('The Bear') and James McAlister ('Power Book IV:Force') on how the UPM guides the...
Virtual Production

The UK Invests in Virtual Production as Content Boom Continues

The UK is doubling down on Virtual Production infrastructure; learn how and why they’re leading the charge...
Topic: UK

UK Production Incentives All Producers Should Know About

Don't miss out on the UK's tax incentives, special programs, and national and regional funding...

Production Incentives Update: November 2022

Don't miss these US incentive programs, accepting applications now!
Western Canada

Production Tax Incentives in Western Canada Every Producer Should Know About

Alberta and Manitoba offer film and TV productions competitive tax incentive programs and versatile...

Film Industry Booms in Buffalo

Western New York draws top filmmakers with expanded tax incentives, new soundstages, and architectural...
Changes to UK right to work checks

Important Changes to UK Right to Work Checks

On September 30, 2022 the UK rules around right to work checks will change. Here’s what productions need...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_New US Incentives 2022

New US Film Incentives Introduced in Arizona, Indiana, Florida, and West Virginia

As production continues to boom, new tax credits and other programs welcome industry to new locations...
EP Webinar Panelists - US Production Incentives Update

US Production Incentives Update: New and Expanded Programs in 2022

Film commissioners Colleen Bell and Sandy Lighterman, and production executives Jay Roewe and Ashley Rice,...
Woman looking at working schedule on laptop

Types of Working Days in the UK HETV Industry – And What They Mean

Key types of working days to be aware of if you’re producing scripted TV in the UK.
Topic: UK

The Future of Streaming and Production Growth in Africa

Streaming services lead a promising wave of African productions set to entertain local and global...
INDUSTRY NEWS_EP at Sundance Film Festival 2023

Entertainment Partners Hosted Incentives Panel at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival

EP's Joe Chianese led an expert panel of film commissioners from across the globe discussing incentives,...

UK Employment Law Changes Production Companies Should Be Aware Of

The UK government is considering a suite of legal changes which – if passed into law – will affect your...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_London Background Actors

London Productions: Key Things to Consider When Working with Background Actors

Is your production filming in or around London? Don't overlook the special rules that may apply to your...
Topic: UK

Illinois’ Historic Film Scene Grows to New Heights with Expanded Tax Incentives

For over 100 years Illinois has supported the film industry and thanks to recently passed legislation, the...

Production Incentives Update: February 2023

A look at changing film incentive programs across Illinois, New York, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

New York Gov. Aims to Boost Film Tax Credits to $700M As New Jersey Rivalry Heats Up

Since 2020, at least 10 productions chose to film in New Jersey or other jurisdictions instead of the...

7 Things Production Finance Teams Need to Know for Budgeting in 2023

Mark Hammond, VP of International Finance & Ops, shares some of the key factors production finance teams...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-PGGB

6FT From The Spotlight Wins Inaugural Earl of Wessex Award at PGGB Talent Showcase

Film and TV industry charity 6ft From the Spotlight were awarded The Production Guild of Great Britain’s...

Entertainment Partners and Netflix Pledge £500K ($608K) to New PGGB Talent Development Fund

Production Guild of Great Britain (PGGB) Talent Development Fund will support the development and...

New Union Agreement for Engaging Crew on UK HETV Takes Effect

Pact/Bectu 2023 agreement makes a number of key changes to the terms and conditions for engaging crew.
Topic: UK
Master Series square Thumbnail Pact Bectu Agreement

Understanding the New Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement 2023

Your comprehensive overview of the new Pact/Bectu TV Drama Agreement and how key changes will impact...
Topic: UK

Hawaii 2023 Loan-Out GET Tax Rule FAQs

Productions seeking a Hawaii tax credit must withhold and report general excise tax (GET) on loan-outs in...

Meet the Music Supervisor

Kasey Truman ('Grey’s Anatomy,' 'The Sandman,' 'Fire Country') on the art of creating cinematic...

Hawaii Production Tax Incentives Notice

Hawaii announces new rules and procedures for reporting and paying loan-out HI General Excise Tax (GET)...
Master Series Budgeting 2023

Budgeting for 2023: Federal, State, and Incentive Considerations

Learn what Federal and State payroll tax changes are coming in 2023, plus tips for setting up your...

US Production Incentives Special Alert: Hawaii

Hawaii amends Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production Income Tax Credit

Preparing for Year End: Focus, Find, and Fix!

EP's payroll tax experts share best practices to identify and resolve payroll tax errors for a smooth year...

Film Community and Industry Jobs Grow in Washington State

Thanks to new funding and a continuous effort by Amy Lillard, Executive Director of Washington Filmworks,...
Changes to UK Pensions Act

Proposed Changes to the UK Pensions Act Could Impact Production Budgets

Reintroduced bill seeks to give UK government the power to extend pensions auto-enrollment to young and...
Topic: UK
UK Gov Growth Plan

Mini Budget; Big Changes: What the UK Government’s Growth Plan Means for Production 

UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announces new Growth Plan (aka the “mini budget”) and a big shake up of the...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_Streaming service

Streaming Services Expand to Latin America and New Audiences

SVOD providers look to Latin America as a gateway to global stories and new subscribers
EP Blog_SQUARE_New York

NY Convenience Rule Impacts Remote Production Workers and Film Incentives

How remote employee payroll taxes apply to New York-based productions and if an employee’s physical...
EP Blog_SQUARE_US Expanded Incentives 2022-2

A Record Number of US States Expand Filmmaking Incentives in 2022

Your guide to the latest news in production incentives and film programs to come from the 2022 legislative...
EP Blog_SQUARE-Atlantic Canada Expands Incentives

Atlantic Canada Expands Film Incentives in 2022

Enhanced production incentive programs attract industry to Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, and...
Compliant crew contracting panel-square

Compliant Crew Contracting in the UK

Learn how to ensure your crew contracts are compliant with UK regulations and why the Production Portal is...
Topic: UK
INDUSTRY NEWS_Square_New VAT Penalty System

Avoiding Penalties Under HMRC’s New VAT System

Late penalties now apply if you submit your production’s value-added tax (VAT) returns after the deadline...
Topic: UK

2023 Tax Year Changes Affecting Your UK Production Payroll

UK government has announced increases to various rates of statutory pay, which will take effect in April...
Master Series: SB 1162 Panelists

SB 1162: What Studios Need to Know about the New California Pay Data Reporting Law

Learn about California’s new expanded pay data reporting law, SB 1162, and how it applies to the...
Topic: Legal

Allowable Mileage Changes in 2023

Driving to and from set? Here's what production workers need to know to maximize allowable mileage...
Joe Francis-EP International-Lyndsay Duthie-PGGB-Alison Small-Netflix

UK Film and TV Industry Gathers at Inaugural PGGB Talent Showcase

More than 250 film and TV industry figureheads, newcomers, students, educators and skills bodies gathered...
EP Newsroom-Netflix logo-Thumbnail

Netflix and Entertainment Partners to Train Next Generation of Production Accountants

Netflix, in partnership with Entertainment Partners, is calling for applicants to participate in a...
EP Newsroom-Thumbnail-PGGB

Entertainment Partners and Netflix pledge £500K ($616K) to new PGGB Talent Development Fund

Entertainment Partners and Netflix have each pledged £250k ($308k) to form a new £500k ($616k) Production...

Production Tax Incentives Notice: Hawaii

Hawaii Department of Tax (DoTax) issues Tax Advisory notice on tax obligations of persons working in the...
Topic: Alerts
Doctor Strange

9 Hollywood Blockbusters Actually Filmed in the UK

Major US studios are taking advantage of what the UK has to offer, and clever set design and special...
Topic: UK

Production Incentives Update: December 2022

A look at changing film incentive programs across the US, Canada, and Czech Republic.

Budgeting and Forecasting Film and Television Residuals

What production accountants need to know to confidently budget and forecast for residuals.
ICO Issues 4.4M Penalty

ICO Warns Against Complacency as it Hands Out £4.4M GDPR Penalty

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposes hefty penalty for failing to protect employee personal...

Meet the Script Supervisor

A conversation with Rachel Connors Phillippe (‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ ‘Only Murders in the Building’)

Three Mistakes That Can Slow Down Your Production Payroll (And How to Avoid Them)

Stay compliant with UK rules and regulations, and get your crew and talent paid on time, with these...

Entertainment Partners at 2022 Institute on Entertainment Law and Business

EP's Production Incentives Practice Leader, Joe Chianese, joins panel to educate producers on the wide...

The Production Accountant’s Guide to Year-End Payroll

A step-by-step breakdown of how to navigate pitfalls and fix production payroll errors for a smooth year...

Special Report: Entertainment – A Hollywood Education

It’s the best of times and the worst of times for employment in the entertainment/streaming industry.

Special Report: Entertainment – Soundstage Gold Rush

Hollywood is experiencing an ongoing boom that fills its Los Angeles production hub to overflow levels.
UK Govt backtracks on growth plan

UK Government Backtracks on Growth Plan: What it Means for Production

Former UK Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng was replaced by Jeremy Hunt after 38-day run, and policies reversed in...
Topic: UK
EP Blog_SQUARE_Creating a development budget

The Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Development Budget

Before you start the filmmaking process, learn what basics you need to budget for to get your idea off the...
UK Court Issues Warning for Personal Data at Work

UK Court Issues Warning for those with Access to Personal Data at Work 

UK Coventry Magistrates’ Court fines a former health adviser £3,000 for unlawfully accessing personal data...
Topic: UK
Master Series Square Thumbnail-Film Financing-Crowdfunding

Film Financing Explained: Crowdfunding

Emily Best (Seed&Spark), Stacy Bradford (Indiegogo), and producer Zach Fineblum join us to discuss the ins...
EP Blog_SQUARE_1st AC Matt Sanderson

Meet the First Assistant Camera

A conversation with 1st AC Matt Sanderson ('Everything Everywhere All At Once')
EP-Newsroom-Below the Line-Thumbnail-480

Union Roundup: Production Incentives Experts Gather, Hoping Hollywood Can Bring Economic Recovery As We Learn to Live With Covid

Entertainment Partners offered an update on U.S. Production Incentives for 2022. The seminar focused on...
Streaming platform on tablet device

The Evolution of Residuals: How Streaming Changed the Model

Understanding how residuals payments are calculated for new content on streaming platforms.
EP Blog_SQUARE_Penka Kouneva-2

Meet the Composer

A conversation with award-winning orchestrator and composer Penka Kouneva (‘Revenge,’ ‘Pirates of the...

Payroll & Finances

PayrollResidualsSmartStartNew SmartTimeProduction PortalEP On LocationSmartAccountingEP LiveSmartPOCASHétPayPaymaster Rate GuideEP Residency

Manage Multiple Productions

AssetHubSmartHubSmartHub Vault
Subscribe now

Be an industry insider with EP's
newsletters and alerts

LegalPrivacy NoticeSecurity
© 2023 Entertainment Partners. All rights reserved.